The Martyrs of Nagasaki (d. 1597)
+ Between 1597 and 1640, a fierce persecution of Christians in Japan claimed the lives of thousands of priests, religious, and lay Christians.
+ On this day, the Church honors twenty-six martyrs who were killed in 1597.
+ After enduring torture and physical mutilation, the martyrs were paraded through a umber of villages before being taken to a hill overlooking the city of Nagasaki, where they were tied to crosses and impaled with lances.
+ This group includes, Japanese, Spanish, Mexican, and Indian religious, and a number of Japanese catechists, as well as three children who had served as altar boys for the missionary-priests.
+ Named for the Japanese Jesuit priest Paul Miki, these “Martyrs of Nagasaki” were canonized in 1861 and are honored as the “protomartyrs” of the Far East and as the patron saints of Japan.
+ Among the martyrs honored today is the Mexican Franciscan friar Saint Philip of Jesus. He is the first Mexican to be honored as a saint and is honored as the patron of Mexico City.
For prayer and reflection
“My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me.”—Saint Paul Miki
On this day, we also remember Saint Hildegund. A German noble, she and her husband, Count Lothair, bore three children, including Blessed Herman Joseph and Blessed Hadewych. Following her husband’s death in 1178, she turned the family’s castle in Meer, Germany, into a convent for Norbertine nuns. Against the objections of her family, she and Hadewych joined the order and Hildegund later serves as prioress of the convent. Saint Hildegund died in 1183.
O God, strength of all the Saints,
who through the Cross were pleased to call
the Martyrs Saint Paul Miki and companions to life,
grant, we pray, that by their intercession
we may hold with courage even until death
to the faith that we profess.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.